Described by his students as passionate, understanding, relatable, encouraging and a clear and effective communicator, Stuart is a highly respected and admired member of the AIS faculty. Known for his outstanding success as a teacher, he also enjoys a well-deserved reputation for supporting students throughout their school life.
A keen musician, Stuart was born and partly raised in Exeter, UK, before moving to Melbourne, Australia, with his family as a teenager to complete high school and university.
Stuart, can you give us a brief outline of your teaching background?
I started teaching in Melbourne in 1998, and since then, I have taught in the UAE, the Czech Republic, and here in Saigon, Vietnam.
During my time at AIS, I have taught mathematics to students in Years 8 to 13, along with IGCSE physics. Most recently, I have focussed on AASL (Analysis and Approaches Standard Level) and AAHL (Analysis and Approaches Higher Level), two of the four maths courses available to Year 12 and 13 IB Diploma students.
The last academic year was also a significant personal development time as I helped shape and write some maths content – not all of it – for the new IB platform, 'Save My Exams'. This online tool provides students with concise revision notes, step-by-step model answers, and focused past papers.
Clearly, you have a great deal of experience in education. Can you tell us about your formal qualifications?
I have a Bachelor of Applied Physics, Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education (Melbourne, Australia) and Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning (London, UK). I'd love to tackle my PhD once my kids have finished school.
Tell us why the IB curriculum is such an excellent programme across all year levels.
I've worked in IB world schools for over nine years now. As both a current IB teacher and IB parent (our son is in Year 13), I greatly appreciate the breadth and non-isolation of content and the depth of thinking required by students. And I approve of the outwardly-focussed nature of the programme and the resilience it builds in all young learners.
Mathematics has a reputation for being quite polarising. So how do you connect with students to make your lessons engaging and enjoyable?
Firstly, students need to feel safe and welcome, regardless of their past mathematical bruises or biases. So I endeavour to make sure they know the classroom is a safe space for mistakes and that their questions and frustrations will be answered and validated.
Secondly, I try to demonstrate that what they are studying is exciting and rewarding. The patterns, chaos, predictability, the unexpected, and the satisfying moments are all, in some way, a snapshot of life in general. As such, I try to demonstrate maths is not a difficult, arrogant subject but one that is already beautifully weaved into the tapestry of their own life.
Pastoral care plays a significant role in your educational philosophy. Why is this such an essential aspect of teaching?
Kids don't need lecturing; they need to be individually understood. They want to be told they are good enough and capable enough. And then be encouraged to be brave and go further – to try out for the musical, to join the football team, to enter the art competition, to take a risk, to get involved and to be the best version of themselves.
Amidst the timetabled framework of a school, thoughts and emotions are constantly at work in our students, whether it be family concerns or confusion around future career pathways. As the noise and the external pressure of life starts to get louder for them, an important aspect of my job is to be an advocate and source of constant support for my classes amidst the chaos of deadlines and lockdowns.
What are the most rewarding aspects of teaching for you?
I enjoy the structure, the variety, and the personal interaction with people across multiple generations. Plus, I enjoy teaching content that is life-worthy. Over the years, teaching has allowed me to remain actively involved in music through school productions, teaching mathematics and coaching football. Brill!
Where can we find you when you are not at work?
I'll be watching Liverpool F.C. compete on the telly, playing the drums, travelling, and spending time with my family.
And finally, what tips or advice do you always share with your students?
I normally finish every lesson with the line, "Have a great day, work hard and be good to your mum!" As a life lesson? "Never judge yesterday's mistakes through the lens of today's wisdom."